Rana Mitter

From Beijing with Love

Great State: China and the World

By

Profile 442pp £25 order from our bookshop

In 1616, the year of Shakespeare’s death, a drama played out thousands of miles away in Beijing. Two court officials were arguing about how Italian Jesuits in China should be treated. One of these, Shen Que, was convinced that they were spreading seditious views and should be expelled forthwith. The other, Xu Guangqi, argued that the foreigners brought valuable new ideas to the country, enabling Confucianism and Christianity to engage respectfully with each other. In the end, the Jesuits were taken to the Portuguese territory of Macao, from where they were supposed to be sent to Europe; they stayed there, however, and two of them even returned to Beijing. Such ambivalence about foreign influence in China has lasted for centuries. We tend to hear much about the nationalistic, prickly part of China’s world-view these days. Timothy Brook’s Great State puts forward an elegant and compelling argument for why we should look at the cosmopolitan part of the Chinese mind-set as well.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'I don’t think we’re here on Earth to be Happy. I think we’re here on Earth to help God. I am a messianic writer'.… ,
    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,